Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Merry Smithmas....

Merry Smithmas everyone.  Jesus' birthday may be celebrated on December 25th but Joseph's is two days earlier on the 23nd.   See, even his birthday comes before Jesus'.   I never really noticed, as a believer, how much emphasis is placed on Joseph Smith's birthday, until sacrament meeting on December 21st, 2014. 

I will say I wasn't impressed with the "special Christmas" service.  Just look at the picture above,  stark, sterile, no windows,  now imagine it full of people.   That was my experience this year.  It was depressing and, to be honest, very boring.   Where are the flowers, the decorations, the excitement?   I felt empty.   I looked around and felt a sadness for the believing members.  This church is an organization that demands so much, but offers very little.  The time away from family, the responsibilities, the money, the invasion of every aspect of your psyche.   And what does it offer?  All this organization can offer is guilt, fear, control,  and a feeling of inadequacy.   These people are in a prison.  The sad part is that it is a prison they think they need and will even defend it.  They can't see the real truth.   The members won't allow themselves to look behind the curtain.  They can't and won't realize how much control this church has in their lives and that they will never really be happy.   They will say how happy they are and that they would be lost without the church, but that is what they were programmed to say.  Sitting there, I realized how much of an impact the church has in their lives. 

Just a short summary of the service--small choir, 1 piano, 1 violin, slow paced music.  It was an especially boring service with the crowning comment during the closing prayer.    A nice member, closed with thanking God for Jesus--good, then continued by thanking God for Joseph and his life and example--bad.  It was a Merry Smithmas indeed. 


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Such a paradox...

As I have transitioned out of the church, I have slowly become more comfortable with who I am.  To show how pathetic I have been, I used to worry about what my neighbors thought of me without my usual visible garment lines.  I can't tell you how many times I have had the welcoming shoulder grab and handshake.  Not only is that gesture establishing the other person's dominance, it also tells them if I'm wearing my "G's".  Now,  I just don't care.  It has taken awhile,  but I don't really care what they think as long as they don't start attacking me and my personal beliefs--otherwise the gloves come off.

I have made some personal transitions.   I have wanted a tattoo for years.  I really like sleeve tattoos.  They look amazing and are an expression of freedom.  Over the weekend, I finally got my first.  It looks great and means something to me.  I know, it may seem strange for a mid-forties--non believer, to have an emotional attachment to a tattoo, but it has been a rough journey to where I am today.  I wanted to celebrate it with something I have wanted for awhile.  Which brings me to my topic of the day.

 There is an interesting trend in the Mormon church.  I think it became very prevalent when a recent convert started making the rounds on the social media sites.   Her name is Al Fox.  She has been called the "Tattooed Mormon".  The Deseret News even ran a post from her personal blog.  She has kind of become a modern day Captain Moroni--to use a Mormon vernacular.   Members have flocked to her internet site.  She has made the rounds of firesides and devotionals.  She has become sort of a celebrity in the Mormon church.   I have read some of her blog posts and listened to her podcast.   To me, shes seems pretty cool.  I like what she says--and seems down to earth.  Not to mention, I really like her tattoos.  I will say, it seems that she has had some sort of push back recently from members of the church, but I know many members really like her. 

The ironic part about this is that while Al enjoys acceptance and inclusion in the Mormon church, tattoos and all  (I feel this is because she got them before joining the church).  I wonder how accepted she would be if she chose to get them after already a member?  The church has made it clear where it stands on tattoos.  From lds.org;

Not only are tattoos a defacement of your body, but getting one could affect your ability to go on a mission.
Imagine you are standing outside a beautiful white temple. Its walls and grounds are immaculate. On the lawn near the front door is a painter. He has displays of his art for all to see.
A few minutes later, you see this painter turn around, pull out cans of paint, and start to paint on the walls of the temple. His painting isn’t ugly, but it just doesn’t belong there. Do you say anything to him? Do you ask him to make his picture bigger and more colorful and offer to pay him for his work? Or do you say, “You can’t do that! This is a holy temple!”?
What would you do if it were your temple? The Apostle Paul said, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:16–17).
“A tattoo is graffiti on the temple of the body,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley. 1
Tattoos are permanent. They are not only physically damaging, but through disobedience to the voice of the prophets, choosing to get one causes spiritual damage also. On top of that, something you might not have thought about before is that having a tattoo will affect your application to be a missionary.

Again from the churches website;

Many fads are fairly harmless. But this one leaves people marked—or mutilated—for life.

When Sara was 16, she got a tattoo. It was a small flower on her back, where no one would ever see it except when she wore her swimming suit. She did it without her parents’ permission, and they were upset when they found out. She and her girlfriends had gone together to get tattoos at the same time. They had talked each other into it. They thought it was kind of cool.

Sara started regretting her decision shortly after. But she became truly heartsick five years later, when she was getting ready to go to the temple to be married to a wonderful young man. She was worthy in every way to attend the temple, but she wished more than anything that she did not have that mark, that foolish tattoo, on her body. It had come to represent a childish, silly wish to follow the crowd, an attitude that she had left behind long ago. The only thing that couldn’t be left behind so easily was the tattoo itself. Now as newlyweds, with both Sara and her new husband still trying to finish their educations, they are not financially in a position for her to undergo the laser treatments necessary to remove her tattoo. She just wishes that she had never had it done.

Fads and fashions come and go. Recently, practices like tattooing and body piercing have become popular. The trends of tattooing and body piercing, as with other worldly fashions, are not long lasting, although the marks or scars they leave on the body are often permanent. These worldly fads are practices that members of the Church should choose to avoid because they don’t complement an attitude of respect toward our earthly bodies as the scriptures and prophets teach. Of course, those who have had tattoos prior to joining the Church have no need to feel embarrassed.

Nice guilt story.  I love the difference in attitude.  It's okay if you have tattoos if you got them before being baptized but don't ever mutilate you body once you are a member.   If you got them before, you are "cool" and will be admired by members as a kind of "rock star".  But after, as a member, you will judged and looked down upon, because you didn't obey your "leaders"-- which I guess is par for the course in this religion.  I do see some headway into breaking down these toxic aspects of the church.  With every Al Fox out there, more members will be less judgmental and condescending.  I guess the church is finally becoming more Christlike after all. ;)